Editorial n. 4 (2011)

This new issue of I Quaderni del Ramo d’Oro On-Line is a particularly rich one. First, it contains papers that originate from a conference organized by the Association for Anthropology of the Ancient World and held in Siena on June 6th and 7th, 2011, with the title "Others' Classics" (I classici degli altri). When organizing this conference, we had in fact considered another metaphor for the title (since metaphors are such powerful instruments of thought), which we felt was very fitting of our intentions: "defrosting the classics". What did we mean by this?
   "Others'" classics, or classics needing to be "defrosted" before use, are the Greek and Latin classics – but not only these – as handled by non-experts. As we know well, scholars of antiquity and above all classical philologists entrust their relationship with classical texts to textual criticism, as well as to reading, translation and interpretation, in order to explain these texts and to train new editors, new readers, new analysts. But what about those who are not classical scholars? With this in mind, we sought out those who have had to "defrost" the classics to make other (but no less important) uses of them, and asked them to recount their own such experiences. Some were students or scholars of modern literatures and cultures; others performers or poets; others advertising professionals; others still commentators on the life of citizens in contemporary poleis: prominent representatives of all these skills and professions met in Siena to participate in our conference. Of courses, there were also scholars of the ancient world on hand, reading to discuss and debate with our guests, along with high school teachers, who every day face the challenge of bringing the ancient world before their classes in the best, most useful, most interesting way. The conference concluded with a refined moment of cabaret: Luca Maciacchini entertained everyone with his "You Can Dance To Virgil, But How About Some Homer?" (Virgilio è ballabile, ma vuoi mettere Omero?), a recital of songs inspired by Latin literature and Roman history, the work of Giorgio Gaber and (surely not by accident) Virgilio Savona, the unforgettable founder of the Cetra quartet. During the conference, Francesco Puccio, one of our doctoral students as well as a stage actor and director, read a selection of texts from classical or "classicizing" authors.
   Dr. Carmela Palumbo of the Ministry for Public Education was also in attendance, in part to inaugurate an agreement that the Center for Anthropology of the Ancient World has recently entered with the government for developing new curricular and pedagogical instruments to bring classical material into high school. The conference in Siena thus represented the – very promising – first "act" of this new collaboration.
   The second part of this issue consists of a number of papers unrelated to any particular circumstance. They represent original works of research, characterized by broad temporal or thematic perspectives, but sharing the same interest in bringing anthropological consideration to certain phenomenon that have typically received quite different treatment.
   The issue concludes with a bouquet of “rhetorical” papers, all centered around "discourses" related to the death of Caesar. The provenance of these papers is interesting: some years ago, Luigi Spina and Simone Beta dedicated a series of doctoral seminars at the University of Siena to this theme, in the conviction that rhetoric plays an important part in the anthropology of communication. Following up on the success of these seminars, Profs. Spina and Beta then proposed the same thematic for a panel of the 18th Biennial Conference of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric (ISHR), held in Bologna in July 2011. The papers presented at this panel have now been reworked, and enriched by the contribution of two scholars – one of Roman and one of Greek rhetoric (Andrea Balbo and Cristina Pepe, respectively). In these papers, the laudatio given over the death of Caesar, the paradigm for all funeral orations, is revived not only through the work of William Shakespeare and Bertoldt Brecht, but also through cinema both serious and less serious.
                                                                                     Maurizio Bettini